Murray has never won the season-ending tournament, but heads to London full of confidence after winning the Paris Masters on Sunday.
”The last few years I haven’t played so well (at the ATP finals),” Murray said. ”I do think playing in front of a home crowd helps. It makes a difference, so hopefully I’ll be able to perform a bit better this year.”
Murray did not need home supporters in Paris, beating big-serving American John Isner 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-4. He has won his past four tournaments and a career high eight this year.
This win was challenging – Isner missed six break-point chances – and it came the day after Murray ensured he’d became world No. 1. The official rankings are published on Monday.
The 29-year-old Murray has three Grand Slam titles, two Olympic gold medals, a Davis Cup title and now – finally – the top ranking for the first time.
”No one would have expected what I have done the last few months,” Murray said. ”I don’t really know if it’s sunk in or not.”
Three big titles he has yet to win are still held by Djokovic: the ATP finals, the Australian Open and the French Open.
Djokovic and Roger Federer have won the finals 11 times between them since 2003, with Djokovic winning it for the past four years.
This year, Djokovic beat Murray in Grand Slam finals at the Australian Open in three sets and at Roland Garros in four.
Murray has been a runner-up eight times in majors, with five of those in Australia.
”I’d love to win the Australian Open … It’s the next major goal, because I have been close a number of times,” Murray said. ”I have never quite done it.”
But he needs to finish off 2016, first. Murray will be the favorite when the finals begin next Sunday. He is the only British player to hold the top spot since the rankings began in 1973, and the oldest first-time No. 1 since John Newcombe at 30 in 1974.
Murray secured top spot after Milos Raonic withdrew from their semifinal on Saturday. That sent Murray through to the final and, coupled with Djokovic’s quarterfinal loss, ensured enough points.
Murray reached No. 2 for the first time more than seven years ago, and his career has been all about chasing the stars of tennis.
Djokovic has 12 Grand Slam titles, Rafael Nadal has 14, and Federer is all-time leader with 17.
”Put him in any other era, he probably has more Grand Slams,” Isner said of Murray.
Murray has been playing those three his whole career – and also more recently world No. 3 Stan Wawrinka – and it shows in the statistics.
Djokovic, who is one week younger than Murray, leads him 24-10; Nadal leads Murray by 17-7; and Federer’s up 14-11.
That, along with some back surgery, helps explain why Murray has won fewer titles than his main rivals.
Sunday’s win was his 43rd – of which 14 are Masters.
Impressive enough, but way behind the other three.
Federer, six years older than Murray, has 88 titles (24 in Masters), Nadal has 69 (28 in Masters) and Djokovic 66 (a record 30 in Masters).
With Nadal struggling with injuries and Federer aging, it could Murray’s time to shine.
”He’s at the top of the game right now,” Isner said, ”and he’s going to give himself plenty more opportunity to win these big tournaments.”
Watch ATP Final 8 Race to London on Tennis Channel this week